The New Jersey Conservation Blueprint is a data-driven interactive mapping tool geared toward land conservation that has recently expanded to include a Camden-specific module (Camden Blueprint) illustrating the barriers to accessing health resources, particularly parks and green space. The New Jersey Conservation Foundation has worked with numerous partners including Rowan University, the Nature Conservancy, the Trust for Public Land and Cooper’s Ferry Partnership to build the Green + Healthy Camden project. We are excited to announce the addition of two organizations working locally in Camden to improve the health outcomes of residents. Over the next year, the Hispanic Family Center of Southern NJ, Inc. (HFC) and the New Jersey Tree Foundation will be using the Camden Blueprint tool to prioritize projects and further their work in the city of Camden. Here is how these organizations plan to use the Camden Blueprint:
- The Hispanic Family Center of Southern NJ Inc. (HFC) opened its doors to the Camden community in 1976. The mission of HFC is to provide the community with a broad range of culturally relevant social services, prevention and advocacy programs that promote and encourage empowerment and self-sufficiency.
HFC clients in Camden often express the desire to improve their families’ health through exercise and spending time outdoors. However, even with curated programming, HFC has found that people are reluctant to go to a park without the guidance of a trusted source. The interactive Camden Blueprint map will empower HFC’s clients to discover their local parks in a new way and to find those that best meet their families’ needs, whether they are looking for a playground, community grill, walking trail, splash pad, or shade. Visitors to HFC’s Family Success Centers in Camden will be able to access the Camden Blueprint, and will be guided in learning how to use it.
- The second partner, the New Jersey Tree Foundation, works directly with residents and local organizations to host tree-planting events and an annual workshop that educate Camden residents on tree care, tree impacts, and maintenance. To date, they have planted more than 7,200 trees in the Camden City area.
The New Jersey Tree Foundation is using the Camden Blueprint tool to help identify areas most in need of trees. With Camden’s legacy of industry, high asthma rates and air pollution, trees are crucial in helping to filter out air pollutants and reduce industrial odors. Trees also shade and cool down hot city streets, which in turn reduces the urban heat island effect and lessens the impacts of heat waves on urban communities.
In addition, Camden has an outdated sewer system called a Combined Sewer Outfall, or CSO. During typical weather conditions the sewer system operates normally with water and sewage making its way to the treatment plant for processing. However, during a rain event the system becomes overburdened with stormwater runoff. Raw sewage and water combine and are dumped untreated into the nearest body of water, flooding neighborhoods throughout Camden and potentially exposing residents to harmful toxins.
Trees help reduce the amount of excess runoff produced during a rain event by soaking up stormwater and filtering out pollutants. The New Jersey Tree Foundation works with residents, community stakeholders, and local organizations to reduce these many negative environmental impacts, which are only projected to increase in the face of future climate change scenarios.
The New Jersey Conservation Foundation is excited to have these two additional partnerships that will improve health outcomes for residents in Camden. Reach out to us to partner in this work.
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